Boston College’s First-Year Writing Seminar (FWS) is a 15-person workshop designed to help you develop and practice skills in writing and research. Over the semester you will learn to write rhetorically, devising effective writing processes for a variety of purposes and audiences, including but not limited to, academic writing. Each workshop allows you to work creatively on a variety of writing tasks and to put yourself in conversation with other writers. You’ll meet regularly with your instructor to make revision plans, learn to give and receive productive feedback to other writers, and develop skills for revising essays before submitting them for evaluation. You may also work with classmates to present and "publish" your work within various classroom, campus, or internet settings.

One goal of FWS is to teach you a variety of strategies to practice in a range of writing situations which, in turn, will help you to understand and plan for subsequent writing challenges in your future academic, professional, and personal lives. Another goal of FWS is to give you the tools and the incentive to keep writing after the course has ended: in other courses, in your community, and for your own pleasure. Part of learning to write well, especially in academic settings, involves putting yourself into conversation with current arguments using the conventions and tropes of relevant discourses. In FWS you will also be introduced to library resources and will practice writing and documenting secondary research.


Paula Mathieu, Director
S447 Stokes Hall

Martha Hincks, Associate Director
S446 Stokes Hall

Dacia Gentilella, Part-time Faculty
Learning Specialist, Learning to Learn Program
50 College Road

Brian Zimmerman, Part-time Faculty
S456 Stokes Hall

Kristin Imre, Part-time Faculty, English department
S430M Stokes Hall

Literature, in all its genres, is a fundamental vehicle for understanding human experiences. By taking three credits of the Core Curriculum in literature, students read in order to explore the characteristics and values of their own and other cultures; to discover alternative ways of looking at the world; to gain insights into issues of permanent importance and contemporary urgency; and to distinguish and appreciate the linguistic and formal satisfactions of literary art.

To read literature critically is to examine the human condition through language’s expressive power and to place the reception of literary works in cultural, historical, and social contexts. In Literature Core courses, students will be introduced to disciplinary skills including close reading, analysis of texts, and the practice of writing about them with clarity and engagement. Through shared critical and reflective inquiry, students will explore ways in which meaning is textually produced in the world.


ENGL 1080 Literature Core

You can fulfill the University’s Literature Core requirement through courses in several departments at BC: English, Classics, Slavic and Eastern European Languages, Romance Languages and Literatures, and German. But to fulfill the university’s Literature Core requirement through the English department—unless you have received AP credityou should enroll in ENGL 1080 (followed by a section number, e.g. .01, .02, and so on). If you plan to take First Year Writing (FWS) as well, you can take your Literature Core Course before or after FWS.

All of our sections have common goals and shared guidelines about exams, the amount of writing you do, and so forth. We all emphasize discussion-based pedagogy, active learning, and collaborative work. Meanwhile you will also quickly discover that we offer many different, exciting topics across our Literature Core offerings, each taking a slightly different approach to these common goals. For instance, one instructor might focus on Detective writing; another on family relations in English and American drama; another on the idea of “money,” or political dissent, or social marginality. For this reason, it is very important to choose a section, if you can, that stimulates your interests—and that starts with consulting our Complete listing of all sections here.

In addition, students may fulfill their Literature Core requirement through the Wood College of Advancing Studies. However, we do not permit the Literature Core requirement to be fulfilled over the summer at other institutions.

You’ll notice, as well, that several Literature Core courses are part of the Core Renewal program, and offer exciting opportunities to study Enduring Questions through cross-disciplinary, parallel courses in two departments.



The Program for English Language Learning (ELL) aims to support undergraduate and graduate students from linguistically diverse backgrounds in their mastery of English.


Two undergraduate English courses fulfilling core requirements are offered as a linked sequence during freshman year. Students place into the sequence after completing the English language assessment during student orientation at the end of August.

ENGL 1009, First Year Writing Seminar for ELL, (fall) provides students with important linguistic support to meet the rhetorical and grammatical challenges they face in writing. ENGL 1079, Literature Core for ELL, (spring) builds on the skills learned in ENGL 1009 and provides students the opportunity to explore literature in a small group setting (limited to 15) as they continue to refine their English writing skills.

For those students in ENGL 1009 and 1079 sections in need of individualized language support, the ELL Writing Specialist Program pairs students with a trained specialist during the semester. Each student meets weekly with her specialist to discuss ongoing writing assignments. (Students are referred to the program by their instructors.)


Language Training courses for Graduate Students are offered each year. ENGL 7700, English Language Training for Graduate Students: Focus on Speech and Presentation Skills, (fall) addresses the challenges non-native speakers face in oral communicability. ENGL 7701, English Language Training for Graduate Students: Focus on Writing, (spring) prepares students for the challenging writing tasks that await them at the graduate level.

Students interested in registering for undergraduate or graduate ELL courses should contact Lynne Anderson, ELL Program Director.

The Writing Fellows Program at Boston College began in 2004 as an initiative to enhance the effectiveness of writing and writing instruction in undergraduate courses across the curriculum. Since 2004, over 3,600 students have been a part of a writing-fellowed course.

The Writing Fellows Program pairs trained graduate-student writing fellows with faculty members who want to focus more attention on student writing in a course. Writing fellows meet individually with students and assist them with three to four papers during the semester, offering feedback on paper drafts. Fellows receive training in responding to student writing and in the rhetorical expectations of the specific discipline and writing assignments. The faculty members also engage in an ongoing dialogue with the writing fellows to clarify what constitutes effective writing in each specific disciplinary and rhetorical situation.

Working with the fellows becomes an integral part of a course, ensuring that students are getting quality feedback on their writing, especially in larger courses that make such concentrated individual attention difficult for faculty to provide. The benefits of this program are three-tiered: first, students benefit from conferencing, mentorship, and direct writing instruction with their writing fellow. Second, faculty benefit from direct interaction with the fellows and learn what types of writing instruction are most effective for achieving their learning goals. Third, the writing fellows benefit, honing their teaching and conferencing skills as they prepare to teach in the FWS program.

The response has been overwhelmingly positive; on average 88% of students agree or strongly agree that conferring with writing fellows has improved their writing. 90% of students surveyed said they would take another writing-fellowed class and would recommend their roommate or friend to do the same. All of the faculty members who worked with the program found the Writing Fellows program to be a helpful resource for their course, and one that they hope to utilize in future classes. The program has influenced how the faculty members approach writing their assignments and communicating their expectations to students.

The program is interdisciplinary in nature. We have partnered with faculty in all four of the undergraduate schools (A&S, LSOE, CSON, CSOM) in a range of disciplines. While the majority of the graduate fellows are M.A. students from the BC English department, in recent years we have employed MA students from Philosophy, Teacher Education, and Romance Languages.

If you are interested in having the writing fellows work with your class please contact the director of the program, Marla De Rosa (

Director: Marla De Rosa, Ph.D.
Office: Stokes Hall S387